Republican lawmaker explains his call to allow Afghanistan refugees into Washington

Aug 17, 2021, 2:35 PM
Afghanistan, refugees...
U.S. soldiers stand guard along a perimeter at the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021. On Monday, the U.S. military and officials focus was on Kabul’s airport, where thousands of Afghans trapped by the sudden Taliban takeover rushed the tarmac and clung to U.S. military planes deployed to fly out staffers of the U.S. Embassy, which shut down Sunday, and others. (AP Photo/Shekib Rahmani)
(AP Photo/Shekib Rahmani)

State Republican leaders are calling on Democrats and Governor Jay Inslee to allow refugees from Afghanistan to come into Washington state.

This isn’t a call for every single refugee to come to Washington, however.

“There are a lot of people in Afghanistan who put their lives on the line to work with Americans and work for the benefit of Afghanistan and for the United States, and a lot of them worked with veterans that now live in the United States. This is about our veterans. It’s also about those people who took great risks to help us, and those are the people that I think we have a responsibility to,” Washington Rep. J.T. Wilcox, House Republican Leader, told the Jason Rantz Show.

Federal Way man fears for his family in Afghanistan

That would include interpreters, as an example. And, as Rantz points out, they’re not coming here for a vacation but rather because they could be killed if they stay in Afghanistan.

“That’s absolutely right, and maybe their family as well,” Wilcox agreed.

“We have veterans here that have spent four, five, sometimes six tours there, and they were partners with these people. They identified as friends of Americans, and because of that, they’re now under incredible risk,” Wilcox continued. “If they’re willing to put their lives on the line, then I think we ought to be there for them, too.”

As to how likely it is that we will see this either at the state or national level, Wilcox referred to it as “utter chaos.”

“The way that this has played out over the last few days means that a lot of people that should be saved are probably not going to be. But that doesn’t mean we can’t try to help the ones that it’s possible to help,” he said.

Since Wilcox has made these calls, he says he’s had conversations with veterans who completely understand, and with congressional offices.

But, Rantz says, there are are some folks on the right who are critical or maybe not taking this as seriously. To them, Wilcox again pointed out that it’s not a call for everyone who can somehow make it to the airport to come to the United States, but rather people who have been through a process. There is a process in place, he says, but it moves very slowly.

“To others, if we want to talk about partisanship, Republicans support the military. We support the people in our state that are veterans, and that means we should support people that risked their lives for our military members that served in Afghanistan,” he said.

From a practical standpoint, Wilcox says there has been experience in this arena before in the state, and there are agencies already involved in doing this.

“And we have a tradition because Governor Evans, 40 years ago, who was a leader in recognizing that foreign people that are loyal to us and risk their lives deserve our help,” he said.

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Republican lawmaker explains his call to allow Afghanistan refugees into Washington